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Welcome home, Bill Van Orsdol!
Our indispensable TV producer Bill Van Orsdol has returned safely from China. He was surprised by the modernity he saw. He toured the country not in old Russian planes but in modern Western ones. He was struck by the progress of Hong Kong since he saw it twenty years ago. He found the new Hong Kong airport very impressive. He saw how Beijing had been cleaned up for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Communist revolution. I have had an interesting discussion with Chinese experts about the large signs everywhere with "50" in Western characters. My impression is that this was to impress foreign TV watchers, but I was told that this is now acceptable, although "50" would be read differently in Chinese.
All this is the essence of WAISerdom, which is much concerned with the image one country has of another. The Economist (10/2) features a review article "Gazing at China," about recent studies of the history of Western views of China. They tell us as much about the observers as about the observed.
Ronald Hilton - 10/11/99